Sep 9, 2016
If this presidential campaign isn't the strangest race for the White House ever, it will do until a stranger one comes along-and I'm in no hurry for that. With good reason, many Americans are asking what went wrong with the system that it should have come to this. The question needs an answer-and effective remedies too-before the election of 2020 rolls around.
Meanwhile we must make it through the election of 2016 with the campaign as it is, which is to say strange to the point of bizarre. Its strangeness resides in at least two related things: first, the candidates; then, the manner in which the campaign is unfolding.
Of course both candidates have their committed defenders, and no doubt I will hear from some of these for what I'm saying now. But both of the candidates are-as Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia put it in a classic understatement-notably "problematic," though obviously in different ways. Problematic, moreover, to a degree that suggests neither of them is qualified to hold the office of president.
It hardly needs saying that this raises a serious problem for conscientious voters. The problem is seemingly-but only seemingly-solved by limiting the criteria for choice to one or two issues. But doing that, even when the issues are important ones, is arguably to indulge in a form of reductionism that robs the question of its genuine complexity, which includes the predictable but largely ignored foreign and domestic crises the next president almost certainly will face.